Walsh Jennings talks new fundraiser, future
In perfect 70-plus degree weather, over 100 girls and boys from as far as San Diego and Utah came to Kerri Walsh Jennings' first fundraising clinic held at the Annenberg Beach house courts in Santa Monica on Sunday.
The event's proceeds benefited Walsh Jennings' Chase the Stars Foundation and the Good Tidings Foundation, which support athletic programs for youth, families and communities in need.
Walsh Jennings' longtime coach Dane Selznick put together the clinic with the help of some of his coaches and Kerri's husband, Casey Jennings, who was instrumental in getting it up and running.
Despite being seven months pregnant and suffering from the flu, Walsh Jennings still made an appearance at the event.
“Beach volleyball is such a beautiful community," she said.
"I think any time you can get out there and grow the sport and give
back, I think that’s obviously very, very important. Selfishly, it’s
just very, very inspiring for me to be around these kids who love the
sport so much.”
Walsh Jennings, who continues to work out despite being due in April, keeps busy with her husband as they work to build their brand. Jennings is
starting his preseason training while Walsh Jennings' remains focused on their new daughter - and a return to competition.
“I’m planning on winning," she said. "[In] 2013, I
plan on competing by the end of the year. I just want to make sure my
heart’s in it. I think this will be the last baby that I have and I just
don't want it to be a sprint like I did after my last two. I was going hard. I
think I bought myself a little more time [this time]. So I’ll come back ready to
win. I want to come back really strong."
Despite her upcoming new arrival, Walsh Jennings still has plans to compete in
the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.
This time she'll have to do it without longtime partner Misty May-Treanor, who announced her retirement
before they won the gold in London last year.
Walsh Jennings now finds herself back in the dating phase as she searches for a partner.
have a very short list," she said. "This baby has bought me some time. Everyone I’m
thinking of is partnered up for the year, so I don’t need to cause any
undue drama. I hate that part of life.
"I can’t wait to get a
relationship with my next partner and have her through Rio and go to war
Walsh Jennings says she expects to make the decision at some point this year, and among those she's considering are players she's had a while to scout.
"People on my list I’ve respected as competitors for so long, even
before London, [when] I knew Misty was retiring. I’ve been thinking about it for a
long time. I’m excited.”
On Sunday, the volleyball clinic was
followed by a private dinner of about a 100 people with auction items.
Walsh Jennings spoke to the group then a video was shown that Jennings, Dr. Michael Gervais and Ed Borneman helped make for her and May-Treanor
when they were in a rut prior to last year’s Olympics.
The duo would watch the video, which included highlights of their career, prior to their matches in London's 2012 Olympics, and it proved to be a success for the three-time gold medalists.
Sunday marked the first time anyone other than Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor got
to see the video.
Walsh Jennings was also able to meet with the
groups individually to answer questions and talk with them about her experiences.
junior Lucy Holdorff of Palisades High School. "She was telling us about how it's
not just about sports itself, and about how about she and Misty had to
have a psychologist talk to them, and [how] their relationship is not just
about volleyball and there is much more to it. It’s more of a mental
sport than physical. I think I have a different perspective. When I
practice and stuff, I’ll try harder and actually think about it.”
Added sixth grader Grace DiNapoli of John
Thomas Dye Middle School:
very inspirational and she taught me if I want to do good, I need to
try and I should never give up,” said
The majority of the kids came because of the large outreach from the indoor and beach club systems. Beach and sand club programs have started to grow rapidly in the last few years because of the increased amount of availability of opportunities for girls to play in college with up to 30 teams competing next season.
"I really have a big
focus on growing the sport in the next four years, help and create a
stable domestic tour, hopefully with the AVP," said Walsh. "There is a lot of hope and
optimism out there so I want to just keep it going.”